Facebook is a treacherous place to navigate. It's entirely too easy for impostors to create fake accounts and to wreak havoc. Sometimes, those accounts are easily identifiable. No photo? No problem. I won't accept that friend request. Sometimes, though, the accounts aren't quite as easy to identify. They have photos and enough information in their profiles to appear to be legitimate.
What is the correct response to receiving a friend request from an account that may or may not be real? Many people accept the friend request without even thinking about it. In some cases, those people may initiate the request themselves because they think they know the owner of the Facebook account. In either scenario, a lingering question hasn't been answered: Is the account owned by an actual friend or an impostor?
Even if you believe that the account is owned by a friend, it may not be. Impostors sometimes duplicate existing Facebook accounts for a variety of reasons. One of them is to stalk your activities, a possibility that becomes an even scarier idea if you're using Facebook Places or a service like it. Another reason is to steal information. What are you sharing in your profile or on your wall? Could that information be used to steal your identity? A third reason is to spread malware. If you're friends with someone, you're more likely to click links he or she shares with you. When an impostor - whom you believe to be a friend - does the same thing, you may click the link without a second thought, releasing some sort of virus. A final reason is to scam you. If you see a post from a so-called friend saying that he or she is in trouble and needs cash, you may be tempted to send him or her money.
What should you do with accounts that may be impostors? The only thing to do is to contact the actual person - in real life - and to verify that the account is a legitimate one. If it isn't, ignore the friend request from that account. If you continue to be contacted by the account, you may have to mark the account as spam to prevent additional requests or messages. If you've already accepted the request, the solution is a little different. The first step is to "unfriend" the person. The second step is to warn your actual friends about the bogus account; after all, an impostor's goal may not have been to affect you or to infect your computer alone. The final step is to check applications that have accessed your Facebook account, to change your password, and to tighten your security and privacy measures on your account.